Urinary incontinence is the loss of bladder control. Notably, it’s quite a common problem – and pretty embarrassing. The condition varies in severity, ranging from occasional leaks when one coughs or sneezes to getting such a strong urge to urinate that one cannot get to the toilet in time.
Typically, the condition is most common among the geriatric population, but that doesn’t mean it’s inevitable aging. Seeing that stress and urge urinary incontinence can tremendously affect your daily activities, don’t hesitate to seek medical assistance on the onset of the problem.
Stress Incontinence vs. Urge Incontinence
Although we have defined what urinary incontinence refers to, we can further narrow it down to types – focusing on stress and urge incontinence. If you have stress urinary incontinence, even the slightest pressure on your abdomen also exerts pressure on the bladder – leading to the leak of only a tiny amount of urine.
This type of incontinence occurs when your urethral sphincter, pelvic floor muscles, or both cannot dependably hold urine due to damage or some form of weakness. Some of the risk factors for stress incontinence include age and vaginal delivery. In men, prostate surgery is among the leading causes due to the likelihood of urinary sphincter damage sustained during the surgery.
The other common type of urinary incontinence is urge incontinence, also known as overactive bladder. This type of urinary incontinence is denoted by the strong urge to urinate, even when the bladder is far from full. The urgency occurs when the bladder muscle (detrusor) contracts and signals a need to urinate, even without the bladder being full.
Urge incontinence can result from physical problems that prevent the body from stopping involuntary bladder muscle contractions. The physical problems include but are not limited to damage to the brain, the nerves running from the spine to the bladder, or the spine itself. Just like stress incontinence, age is a risk factor when it comes to urge incontinence.
There are other types of incontinence – reflex, functional, overflow, and mixed incontinence. The question of the relationship between vaginal laxity and urinary incontinence is quite a common one.
When estrogen production goes down, it results in a loss of elasticity in the vaginal muscles. The muscles also become thinner and lose their strength and structure. Since vaginal laxity usually comes with age, it’s often accompanied by myriad conditions – among them urinary incontinence and sometimes, rectal incontinence. However, there is no established relationship between testosterone levels and incontinence.
When to Seek Help
Although incontinence might not be the most comfortable discussion to have with your doctor, it’s essential to talk about it, especially if it’s affecting your quality of life. That way, the doctor can even detect a more serious underlying condition. Although incontinence is relatively straightforward to detect, the doctor might need to conduct an additional test. For instance, they might check your rectal tone in the case of rectal incontinence.
Treatment options for urinary incontinence range from implementing a natural solution like urinating on a schedule to more advanced options like Emsella. This is a breakthrough treatment for incontinence and involves using electromagnetic energy to create supramaximal contractions within the pelvic floor. Other treatment options include bladder surgery, pelvic reconstruction, and uterine prolapse surgery.